MARCH 25, 1942
SEATTLE, Tuesday—I have not spent such a quiet peaceful day in a long time as I did yesterday on Mercer Island with my daughter. Of course, my very active three-year-old grandson can make life fairly busy, because he has an imagination which can always think up new games. He is either under the bed or rolling over it, or finding something which can become an object of interest and injury. Fortunately, the weather is good and something outside usually becomes more tempting than the society of his elders within doors.
Several months ago, I spoke at the Town Hall in New York City with various other people, on a subject which seemed important to all of us—"What Must We Do To Improve the Health and Well Being of the American People." The Town Hall offered prizes for 1,000 word essays by adults, and by young people below the age of twenty-one. I have just heard that the first prize in the adult group was won by Dr. Jacob Sobel, a well known New York pediatrician.
He based his essay on the point of view that only the nation which has healthy children has a future as a nation, and included a detailed, specific plan for a better health and education program. The reason I am telling you of this particular essay is that his premise seems to me one which we should consider very carefully today.
The tendency is to feel that anything which is not directly connected with war production, the building of ships, airplanes or other military equipment and the induction into the military services of an ever-increasing number of young men, is of no importance in the war effort. If we fall into this misapprehension, we may find ourselves not only handicapped in winning the war, but very much handicapped in winning the peace.
The best machinery in the world has to be handled by intelligent people, and unless we continue the services we have set up for better health, education and recreation for the children and young people of today, not only the future of the war, but the future of the country is in danger.
We should learn something even from our enemies. Germany has paid great attention to the very things which we are already neglecting in our haste to make war, something which can only be won on a military basis and has nothing to do with what happens on the civilian side of the picture. Just the other day, I found in the crowded industrial areas near San Diego and Los Angeles that one of the most agitated questions was how day nurseries and nursery schools could be set up. The lack of them slows up production on the part of the women, many of them mothers, who are employed in the aircraft factories. "Welfare activities" seem to have military importance.